A thousand lifetimes, lost thanks to one act of evil
Deva Avenger/Cleric/Radiant Servant
Bael Phoebus is the current incarnation of the Deva Bael, now an Avenger/Cleric of Pelor, after ridding himself of both the Raven Queen and his pact to the star god Caiphon.
In his previous, he was Bael Corvus, because of this:
He had died countless times before: the dark alley behind the brothel in the City of Brass, battling Cosmic horrors aboard the doomed vessel Legacy, in the maw of the hell against a legion of greater demons, daring to face the great wyrm amidst the evacuation of the Great Elven Forest, and countless more. Never pleasant, but almost comforting in the routine. The hazy renewal, the bits of memory, the feeling of history.
He felt even emptier than he had ever been.
Blinking in confusing, Bael opened his eyes to see a slim dark silhouetted figure looming above him. Ravens swarmed around both him and his mysterious figure, cawing ominously. He sat up slowly and laughed. “The Raven Queen herself greats this end. You know that the Deva are outside your cycle.”
“Bael, you seem out of sorts. Do you not recall what brought you here?”
Bael blinked in confusion. “Yet another death, I’m certain.”
The Raven Queen laughed. Her flock hooted and called in unison with her. “Dear Bael, this is truly outstanding. Perhaps this is more ignoble than death for one such as yourself: you failed and now you forget. You are bereft, Bael, with a multitude of foes clamoring for you blood.”
Bael blinked, recalling none of it, yet strangely certain she was telling the truth. “Immortal I may be, but you have powers that can cloud my mind.”
“Yet, I use none of them.”
Bael knew it to be true immediately. “In past lives, I have slaughtered your dark cabal of Eight Avengers. I butchered the Shadar-Kai that dare profane the realm of Kord. I am no friend to yours, Raven Queen.”
The Raven Queen seemed to be waiting expectantly, but when he said nothing more she replied, “Yet I do not consider you an enemy. When our interests were at odds, you acted. Bygones, dear Bael. Now, though, you are empty.”
Bael flinched. He had once possessed a wellspring of divine power, he knew this, yet he could find none.
“You are bereft.”
Bael stood up and growled.
“You are broken.”
“Enough,” Bael whispered.
“And you have more enemies than ever, not just the usual members of the dark powers. No, Bael the forces of Light will be most displeased with you, I’m certain.”
Simmering anger boiled within Bael, but he was not one to lose control. “Tell me then, what I have done that is so terrible?”
The Raven Queen said nothing, but her flock began to swirl about Bael, cawing endlessly. He withstood their torment has hundreds of their bodies flew within inches of his body. “I will tell you nothing, Bael, for you will not believe. I know not the entirety of the tale, only hearsay. No, Bael I cannot do that.”
“Yet killing me would be futile.”
“You are too valuable for me to kill.”
“I have been without an Avenger of suitable power for ages, Bael. It is true, in another life you slew the greatest group that had ever served me. You are empty, you need power. Accept the investiture of power, Bael. You know how to use such strength, already.”
“I am an Avenger,” Bael said aloud. “Yes, I am.”
“No, Bael, you were. Now you are nothing.”
The words were without malice, yet the truth behind them stung. The truth that he had enemies, more enemies than he had imagined, resonated as well. “I may not have power, yet I am something.”
“I require but one thing from you Bael. The power of the Raven Queen is that of death. In every incarnation you have delivered death like none over. This trait would please me in an Avenger. No, Bael, I want your word that you will accede to but three demands. I will call on you three times, Bael, no more, no less. After the third, the investiture is yours to do with what you will.”
Bael stared at the Raven Queen’s hazy form. “You still do not choose to manifest yourself fully. Why?”
“Or fear,” Bael said smugly. “You have me captive in your realm, under duress.”
“You may leave at any time, with or without the investiture.”
“I truly have failed at something grand, something horrifying.”
“Oh you have, Bael. You have my word on that. The Gods themselves will love you or fear you, but they will dare not traffic with you.”
Bael took a deep breath. He would need more the powers of the Raven Queen. He could rely not on her alone, yet that was his only choice now. He remembered details of alien powers, those that typically did not meddle directly in the realms. If he was truly a hunted man he would need them all. That was later, this was now. He had a choice to make.
He knelt before her. “I accept.”
The Raven Queen reached behind her back and pulled an Axe from thin air. “After you slaughtered the Eight Avengers, you took most of their belongings, save this. You have wielded weapons both greater and paltrier, but perhaps none so ironic.”
Bael held his hands in front of him. She place the Executioner’s Axe in his outstretched hands. He swung a few test strokes. He felt the radiant power of the Raven Queen surge through him. Whereas once is divine might had been akin to a torrent of a raging river, he felt nothing but a steady stream. “I am not what I was.”
“Not yet,” she confirmed. “But you can be again.”
“And perhaps more,” Bael said wickedly. The Raven Queen flinched. Despite her insubstantiality, he sensed a current of trepidation from her. “Do you regret your choice, Raven Queen?”
“Do you regret yours, Bael?”
They regarded each other in silence.
“Time will tell,” he said.
“Aye,” she replied simply. “Shed what you once were Bael. Arise Bael Corvus, Deva of a thousand lifetimes, three times my enemy, three times my ally, three times my indebted and my Avenger as long as you should live.”
“As long as I should live.” A portal opened in front of him. “Do you not want to wish me good fortune? That I might harvest a thousand screaming souls for your dread kingdom?”
“Oh Bael, you need no luck for that,” the Raven Queen said.